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Major Yellowstone Elk Herd Declines

Bill Schaefer/Getty Images

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Scientists say a major elk herd that migrates from Yellowstone National Park has suffered another steep decline due to a hard winter, predator attacks and hunting.

Wildlife agencies said Tuesday the Northern Yellowstone Elk herd is down to about 4,174 animals. That’s a 10 percent drop from last year.

Yellowstone biologist Doug Smith says the herd remains healthy despite its smaller size. Smith says it is more in line with historic levels since wolves were reintroduced and grizzly bears and mountain lions returned naturally.

Some outfitters and others who live outside the park say officials have not done enough to curb predator attacks, particularly by wolves.

The Yellowstone herd supported a thriving hunting industry before its numbers started to drop. It peaked at about 20,000 animals in 1992.

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